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My true account, lest He, returning, chide;
ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea, The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;
Save that, from yonder ivy-mantled tower
The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient, solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a moldering heap, Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed, The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care; No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke; How jocund did they drive their team afield !
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure; Nor grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,
The short and simple annals of the pocr.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp
of power, And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Await alike th' inevitable hour
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If memory o’er their tomb no trophies raise, Where, through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault,
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? Can honor's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or flattery soothe the dull, cold ear of death? Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Or wake to ecstasy the living lyre ;
Rich with the spoils of time, did ne’er unroll;
rage, And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear; Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood; Some mute, inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood. Th' applause of listning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation's eyes
Their lot forbade: nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined; Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind;
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame; Or heap the shrine of luxury and pride,
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray; Along the cool, sequester'd vale of life,
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect,
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
The place of fame and elegy supply;
That teach the rustic moralist to die.
For who, to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleading, anxious being e'er resigned; Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one lovging, lingering look behind ?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires ; E'en from the tomb the voice of Nature cries;
E'en in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee, who, mindful of th’ unhonor'd dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate, If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
“Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn, Brushing, with hasty steps, the dews away,
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn;
“ There, at the foot of yonder nodding beech,
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high, His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by. “ Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Muttering his wayward fancies, he would rove; Now drooping, woeful-wan, like one forlorn,
Or crazed with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.
6 One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill,
Along the heath, and near his favorite tree; Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;
66 The next, with dirges due, in sad array,
Slow through the church-way path I saw him borne: Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay
Graved on the stone, bencath yon agèd thorn."
Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth,
A youth, to fortune and to fame unknown; Fair science frown'd not on his humble birth,
And melancholy mark'd him for her own.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere;
Heaven did a recompense as largely send: He gave to misery (all he had) a tear;
He gained from Heaven ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.
No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode, (There they alike in trembling hope repose)
The bosom of his Father and his God. — Gray.
Have you read in the Talmud of old,
Of the limitless realms of the air,
Sandalphon, the Angel of Prayer?
How, erect, at the outermost gates
With his feet on the ladder of light,
Alone in the desert at night?
The Angels of Wind and of Fire
With the song's irresistible stress;